Thursday, May 23, 2024

Frances shares 100 years of wonderful stories

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CENTENARIAN: Frances (Frankie) Tuckey recalls 100 years of good life, including two world wars. Photo Jackie Russell

By Jackie Russell

Being born in the last year of World War I and being a young bride throughout World War II appears to have created an incredibly positive and resilient a centenarian.

Frances (Frankie) Tuckey was born on June 29, 1917 while Britain and its allies continued to battle during the Northern Hemisphere summer.

As a newborn baby in London, Frankie was oblivious to the bombing of her city little more than a week after her birth but 100 years later, she has many great memories to share at her Ambridge Rose Manor home.

Frankie grew up with her two sisters and parents in a two-room house with no running water.

“We had to go to the floor below us and they had a little corner sink where we could get water,” says Mrs Tuckey.

“If I’ve lived this long – we couldn’t have done too badly.”

Mrs Tuckey’s parents had German and Dutch heritage and they changed their name from Diesch to Hottages to avoid conflict for the family.

The children used one name for school and another for home, which caused a bureaucratic hiccup when Mrs Tuckey was an adult and applied for a passport to come to New Zealand.

On October 10, 1937, Frankie married William (Bill) Tuckey and the young couple had a long-distance relationship while Bill served during WWII.

Mr Tuckey was at Dunkirk and Mrs Tuckey was bombed out of her London home.

“I worked on munitions and we always had to go down into the shelter, but actually it was quite exciting and we didn’t have to work when that was going on.

“In the factory, all the girls’ husbands were away in the army or the navy and we had quite a good time, even though it’s a terrible thing to say.”

There were naafi (navy, army, and air force institutes) dances and because the women were working they ate out for dinner enjoying very cheap and great quality meals. On one occasion, Mrs Tuckey was told her husband was missing, which was a worry but he did return home, eventually.

“When we were young we never took a lot of notice of what was happening – we just carried on.”

The couple’s son, Robin was one of the first baby boomers to be born and the family lived in Brixton. Mrs Tuckey worked as a machinist, sewing pockets onto shirts for a penny per pocket and her husband worked for a moving company.

“We didn’t want for anything and quite enjoyed life.

“We didn’t have a lot of money but you got on with it, always managed and never complained.”

Mrs Tuckey’s sister came to New Zealand, and the Tuckey family followed her when Robin was five years old.

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